In testimony submitted to a Senate appropriations subcommittee Friday, ACE President Ted Mitchell urged members to continue their bipartisan support of federal student aid programs—which combine grants, work-study, and loan programs—as they work on the appropriations bill for FY 2019.
Congress approved a two-year budget agreement earlier this year that set an overall spending limit of $1.3 trillion for both 2018 and 2019. While the allocation for the FY 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies appropriations bill will be level with FY 2018, ACE has identified target funding for particular programs that would ensure they reach a level consistent with what appropriators have provided in the past.
The suggested funding requests Mitchell outlined in his testimony include:
- Pell Grants: Increase the Pell Grant maximum to $6,230. This would reflect an adjustment to the FY 2018 Pell maximum of $6,095 at the Congressional Budget Office’s current projected Consumer Price Index for 2018, ensuring that available aid keeps pace with inflation.
- Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) and Federal Work-Study (FWS): In order to restore the purchasing power of these programs, Congress should fund them at their pre-sequester levels, adjusted for inflation. For SEOG, that would be $1.028 billion and for FWS it would be $1.434 billion.
- TRIO: To restore services for the more than 30,000 students who have lost access to the TRIO programs over the last decade, increase funding to $1.07 billion.
- GEAR UP: GEAR UP should be funded at $375 million, which would bring approximately 70,000 new students into the program and increase the overall number of students served to 770,000.
- Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN): GAANN should be funded at $48 million, the pre-sequester high-water mark for funding graduate education in the humanities, adjusted for inflation.
- Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP): LEAP grants should be funded at $65 million. While LEAP has not been funded since FY 2011, it has not been repealed, and provides a strong federal-state partnership for states to increase their efforts to support need-based financial aid.
The Labor-HHS-Education and Related Agencies bill is often the most difficult for Congress to pass, due to both the large overall funding it provides as well as partisan disagreement over a number of related policy issues. While both the House and Senate intend to pass all the appropriations bills by the Sept. 30 deadline that marks the end of the federal fiscal year, Congress has not successfully done so since 2005.